Today sees research institutions from across Germany and the rest of Europe sign an agreement which commits them to providing transparent information on animal research. As part of this step, researchers from across the life sciences commit to taking an active role in shaping the public dialog on animal research and imparting relevant knowledge. Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin joins the transparency initiative’s (Initiative Transparente Tierversuche) 47 existing signatories, which include universities, hospitals, non-university research institutions and research-based companies, as well as professional associations and funding organizations. The information platform is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German ‘Alliance of Science Organisations’.
Modern biomedical research relies on a whole array of different research methods. The process of gaining new insights – knowledge which might enhance our understanding of specific diseases or our ability to develop new treatment options – may involve the use cell cultures, organoids, computer simulations or other innovative methods. Animal experiments remain indispensable in some areas of the biomedical sciences. These include basic research, applied clinical research and research into new diseases such as COVID-19.
Responsible animal research which follows the ‘principles of the 3Rs’ is only half the challenge. It is also necessary to understand the need for this type of research and to talk about it. “Transparency and openness in the way this controversial topic is communicated is of particular importance,” says Charité’s Dean, Prof. Dr. Axel Radlach Pries. Emphasizing that both are integral to good research practice and credible scientific communication, Prof. Pries adds: “The creation of Charité 3R back in 2018 marked the beginning of Charité’s efforts to develop an internal structure dedicated to improving the validity of animal research and promoting the development of alternative methods. At the same time, Charité also developed a comprehensive portfolio of publicly available information, including the information provided on the Charité 3R website,” says Prof. Pries. In addition to transparent annual statistics on numbers of research animals used, Charité also publishes information on the disciplines involved in animal research and provides answers to frequently asked questions.
The transparency initiative complements a range of other communication-based activities taking place across Europe and the rest of the world. It was organized to coincide with this year’s ‘Be Open about Animal Research Day’ (BOARD) on 1 July, a day of action dedicated to celebrating proactive communication and sharing examples of openness and transparency in animal research.
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